Post victory agenda and hope of the nation | Sunday Observer

Post victory agenda and hope of the nation

16 August, 2020

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka People’s Front (SLPP) has secured a stunning and historic victory at the recent parliamentary election. Sri Lankans have placed absolute trust in President Rajapaksa and his vision ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ which was presented at the last Presidential election.

The pledge was based on ten key policies, economic revival, eradication of drug-trade and other criminal elements, and establishing discipline and law and order are among the main criteria.

The new Government obviously will have many daunting challenges ahead and none easy to manage. The irony is that the public will not understand these challenges and will expect the accomplishment which is justifiable as they have displayed immense trust in the Government with a two-third mandate as was requested by the candidates throughout the election campaign.

That the administration requires intellectuals and professionals is a concept introduced by the President before his election to the Presidency. At this parliamentary election, the voters have responded to the call and selected eight out of nine Viyathmaga candidates fielded by the SLPP. Had there been more intellectuals representing this professional network, there would have been more new parliamentarians from Viyathmaga.

This indicates that the common citizen is leaning towards professionals rather than traditional politicians.

However, on a positive note, this time around, President Rajapaksa will not have a hindrance by way of a coalition.

Many past governments in post-independent history, ruling as alliances had suffered in many national issues, as defining motivation for coexistence as a coalition was tricky. The ruling party has more than the adequate number in Parliament to pass any people-friendly Bill without an impediment.

Impressive mandate

In this writer’s opinion, apart from the trust and confidence reposed in the President, the public has taken several key factors into consideration to offer such an impressive mandate. Managing the Covid-19 situation efficiently, the effective cracking down of drug trade and other criminal activities and the President’s personal concern, and involvement in the public sector efficiency are a few of them. Besides, the President, in reality, displayed simplicity by reducing security presence, stopping unwanted public-funded tamashas, utilising own funds for private travel abroad, and so forth, which caught the attention of the public. In a marked similarity, many politicians followed the example.

A clear and strong mandate was given to the Government to lead the country to economic growth and prosperity in a law-abiding, peaceful environment.

The public expectation of the new Government is tall and lofty than that of the past governments as they believe in the vision of the leader. The challenge to the President and the Government is towering higher than usual. Being a war hero who was actively involved in the battle against terrorism, the President amply realises this salient fact.

Irrespective of the current debacles created by Covid-19 and other global economic downturns, over the next five years people will expect a reduction in poverty levels, a more considerate tax structure, reduced inflation, and lower cost of living. Also, they will expect eradication or control of the drug menace, underworld criminal activities, and equality in law for everyone.

The public will also ask for improved public service, better social welfare systems, and enhanced living standards.

All or most of these were election pledges by all contesting parties, but obviously, to be executed by the ruling Government.

On the other hand, the Opposition that suffered a humiliating defeat will start breathing down the neck of the Government and seek any and every move to discredit the administration. It is a cinch that all Opposition political parties, in and outside Parliament sooner or later, will get together to disrupt any positive move by the Government.

Having seen the blatant untrue claims they made against opposing candidates during the election campaign, and the totally empty promises presented to the public, the administration can anticipate the lowest level of resistance from them. As in the past, in the face of the virtual whitewash, the current Opposition has already started the blame game, just a few days after the election.

The euphoria over the change of government is unlikely to end soon. Nevertheless, the Government must realise that they have a relatively short time before the jubilation is over and that the public will start looking at the election wows more seriously.

Although the Opposition is not likely to give adequate time to settle down, the voters will be a bit more considerate. As in any similar situation, as much as the mandate is huge, the expectations are also equally high, especially when the masses believe that the country’s leadership is honest in vision and action.

Even if the nitty-gritty of economic theories is beyond the comprehension of lay persons, they certainly will anticipate better living standards and lesser cost of living.

Therefore, the first mission of the new Government will be to get the economy back on its feet. President Rajapaksa has already taken several optimistic and constructive steps in this direction.

The job of the Finance Minister is not an enviable one at present. Whoever takes over this undesirable task must be cautious as the entire country will be looking out for results.

Economic revival

The recently appointed task force on economic revival, headed by versatile taskmaster Basil Rajapaksa, will be a consolation to the Minister, if they are given the authority to function without political pressure.

Wherever the President visited, particularly during the election campaign, people in unison, requested him to eliminate the drug threat which destroys the future generation. Thus far, the Police and other relevant authorities were only able to grab the small fry.

The kingpins of the trade always manage to evade the law. However, to the consolation of the concerned public, the capable Defence Secretary seems to be cracking the whip on the key players too.

In the past two months, the Special Task Force, assigned to combat drugs and the underworld, has achieved tremendous success in rounding up big and small drug traders as well as many notable crime gang leaders.

The peaceful existence of the nation is destructively damaged by these criminal elements. Therefore, irrespective of race, religion, caste, or political differences, the public expects the task to continue until the Government creates a peaceful society.

The improvement of the deteriorated public service is another dream of the common man.

Every citizen in the country needs the services of the public sector many times during his or her lifetime. The country has already witnessed President Rajapaksa’s tough stance on the inefficiency of the public sector. It is important that the Government places the highest priority to enhance the efficiency of public servants. It is no secret that the sector is infected with bribery corruption, fraud and malpractice.

Therefore, another area the public expects is the Presidential involvement in monitoring the effectiveness of the public sector.

Overall, the public is immensely optimistic about the direction of social, economic, environmental, and security issues over the next few years and hope that the new Government will deliver the goods.

The election results clearly indicate that the new Government is capable of exceeding public expectations. Should the Government along with the powerful, task-driven, and strong Presidency achieve the anticipated agenda, not only the country will also prosper but the people will eagerly keep them in power indefinitely. Similarly, if the Government falters due to the usual petty politics, the public will oust them mercilessly in five years.